large, domesticated, cloven-hooved herbivores
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Cattle (colloquially cows) are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius. Cattle are raised as livestock for meat (beef and veal), as dairy animals for milk and other dairy products, and as draft animals (pulling carts, plows and the like). Other products include leather and dung for manure or fuel. In some countries, such as India, cattle are sacred. It is estimated that there are 1.3 billion cattle in the world today.

Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, August 1883: 'Cows in the Meadow', oil-painting
The cattle are grazing,
Their heads never raising:
There are forty feeding like one!


  • The cattle upon a thousand hills.
    • Psalms, line 10, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 30.
  • The cattle are grazing,
    Their heads never raising:
    There are forty feeding like one!
    • William Wordsworth, The Cock is Crowing, written in March while on the bridge, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 30.
  • The ever-increasing cattle population is wreaking havoc on the earth's ecosystems, destroying habitats on six continents. Cattle raising is a primary factor in the destruction of the world's remaining tropical rain forests. … Cattle are also a major cause of global warming. … The devastating environmental, economic, and human toll of maintaining a worldwide cattle complex is little discussed in public policy circles. … Yet, cattle production and beef consumption now rank among the gravest threats to the future well-being of the earth and its human population.
    • Jeremy Rifkin, Beyond Beef: The Rise and Fall of the Cattle Culture (London: Thorsons, 1993), pp. 1-2.
  • If you want to own cows you must sleep in the fields with them.
    • Rwandan proverb, as quoted in An Ordinary Man (2006), by Paul Rusesabagina, Chapter 10


  • They are as numerous, as numerous as the grasses which break through the earth. [...] They are as numerous as the grasses which break through the earth. Their are translucent lapis lazuli. Their are the colour of the rising moon. The cows with their calves are numerous and are precious cuba stone. [...] He who loves the cows herds them into the pen. [He] who loves the cows rounds up the cows. [...] Their butter is holy butter, their milk is holy milk.
  • God sends a curst cow short horns.
    • William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (c. 1598), Act 2, Scene 1
    • Variant: A curst cow hath short horns.
    • Note: "Curst" here refers to being ill-tempered, and "short horns" to being ineffectual, as illustrated by this earliest known example:
  • A cow is a very good animal in the field; but we turn her out of a garden.
  • Arun Shourie quotes Govind Singh as declaring: 'Let the path of the pure [khâlsâ panth] prevail all over the world, let the Hindu dharma dawn and all delusion disappear. (...) May I spread dharma and prestige of the Veda in the world and erase from it the sin of cow-slaughter.'
    • Guru Govind Singh, quoted by Arun Shourie, quoted from Elst, Koenraad (2002). Who is a Hindu?: Hindu revivalist views of Animism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and other offshoots of Hinduism. ISBN 978-8185990743
  • Cow-sacrifice in India is the noblest of Islamic practices. The kafirs may probably agree to pay jiziya but they shall never concede to cow-sacrifice.
    • Ahmad Sirhindi quoted in S.A.A. Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, Agra, 1965, pp. 248-249. Quoted from Goel, Sita Ram (1995). Muslim separatism: Causes and consequences. ISBN 9788185990262
  • The friendly cow all red and white,
    I love with all my heart:
    She gives me cream with all her might
    To eat with apple-tart.
  • I warrant you lay abed till the cows came home.
  • All is not butter that comes from the cow.
  • To country people Cows are mild,
    And flee from any stick they throw;
    But I’m a timid town bred child,
    And all the cattle seem to know.
  • His knowledge of country lore was a little hazy, but he felt fairly sure that if the cows lay down, it meant rain. If they were standing it would probably be fine. These cows were taking it in turns to execute slow and solemn somersaults; and Tyler wondered what it presaged for the weather.
    • Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
  • The cow is of the bovine ilk;
    One end is moo, the other, milk.
    • Ogden Nash, The Face is Familiar (1940), 'The Cow'

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.
Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 145.
  • I never saw a Purple Cow,
    I never hope to see one;
    But I can tell you, anyhow
    I'd rather see than be one.
  • The Moo-cow-moo's got a tail like a rope
    En it's ravelled down where it grows,
    En it's just like feeling a piece of soap
    All over the moo-cow's nose.
You may rezoloot till the cows come home.
  • You may rezoloot till the cows come home.
  • Thank you, pretty cow, that made
    Pleasant milk to soak my bread.
  • Bullfight critics row on row
    Crowd the vast arena full
    But only one man’s there who knows
    And he's the man who fights the bull.
    • Quoted in a letter to the editor by Representative F. Edward Hébert, chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services, who said, "President Kennedy was fond of quoting some lines from the Spanish poet García Lorca". Reported in The Washington Post (April 11, 1971), p. C7. These lines are believed not to be García Lorca's.
  • I'm as strong as a bull moose and you can use me to the limit.
  • Clamores simul horrendos ad sidera tollit:
    qualis mugitus, fugit cum saucius aram
    taurus et incertam excussit cervice securim.
    • The while he lifts to heaven hideous cries, like the bellowings of a wounded bull that has fled from the altar and shaken from its neck the ill-aimed axe.
    • Virgil, Aeneid, Book II, lines 222–224 (tr. Fairclough); the death of Laocoön.
  • Who drives fat oxen should himself be fat.
    • Samuel Johnson, parody on "Who rules o'er freemen should himself be free," from Henry Brooke's Earl of Essex. In Boswell's Life of Johnson (1784).
  • And the plain ox,
    That harmless, honest, guileless animal,
    In what has he offended? he whose toil,
    Patient and ever ready, clothes the land
    With all the pomp of harvest.

See also

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